George Herbert, priest and poet

February 3, 2013

George Herbert was born in 1593 to an eminent Welsh family. His mother was a patron to distinguished literary figures such as John Donne, who dedicated his Holy Sonnets to her. Herbert’s father died when he was three, leaving his mother with ten children, all of whom she was determined to educate and raise as loyal Anglicans. After completing his education at Cambridge, Herbert was appointed reader in Rhetoric at Cambridge, and in 1620 he was elected public orator.

He later resigned as orator, married, and took holy orders in the Church of England. Herbert spent the rest of his life as rector in Bemerton near Salisbury. While there, he preached, wrote poetry, and helped rebuild the church out of his own funds.

Herbert’s practical manual to country parsons, A Priest to the Temple (1652), exhibits the intelligent devotion he showed to his parishoners. On his deathbed, he sent the manuscript of The Temple to his close friend, Nicholas Ferrar, asking him to publish the poems only if he thought they might do good to “any dejected poor soul.” He died of consumption in 1633 at the age of forty and the book was published in the same year. The Temple met with enormous popular acclaim—it had been reprinted twenty times by 1680.

Love (III)
by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.

Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank You for the pure, unaffected poetry of George Herbert and for his witness, both as a parish priest, grounded in one time and place, and as a poet, read through the centuries and around the globe. We confess that in the West, we have become so distracted with things of this world that we are losing the immediacy of relationship with You and the hunger to be shaped by Your Holy Word. We are losing the desire to pay homage to You in the reading and writing of holy poetry.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We humbly request that a new generation of clergy in the Church of England will eschew the distractions of this world, delight to rest in You, and magnify Your holy name in poetry. Amen.


Luke 4:31-32

February 3, 2013

Then he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. (Luke 4:31-32)
      Jesus, come and teach in every parish of this diocese.

      Holy Spirit, help us all to accept the authority of Jesus’ words and teaching.

      Father, renew us by your Holy Spirit so that we all become disciples of Jesus who do what he does and follow where he leads us. Thank you.

A word received: Come to me, I will sustain you.

Sunday: 24, 29 * 8, 84; Isa. 51:9-16; Heb. 11:8-16; John 7:14-31
HC: 71:1-17 or 71:1-6, 15-17; Jeremiah 1:4-10; 1 Corinthians 14:12b-20; Luke 4:21-32
Monday: 56, 57, [58] * 64, 65; Isa. 51:17-23; Gal. 4:1-11; Mark 7:24-37

      Notes from the Front Line

***** This gives new meaning to the phrase “God’s frozen chosen”.

Louise Popa, Darlene Chesnut, Torre Bissell, and Toni Loveless on the Christ Church State St. prayer table yesterday morning.

***** From: Nigel Mumford
Sent: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Funny thing,
      I see so many people who expect so much of themselves and so little of God. How about flipping that thought? Try less and trust more dear soul.

Albany Intercessor

John Donne, priest and poet

February 3, 2013

Born in 1572, Donne entered the world during a period of theological and political unrest for both England and France, Protestants being persecuted in France and Catholics in England. Born into a Roman Catholic family, Donne’s personal relationship with religion was tumultuous and passionate, and at the center of much of his poetry. He studied at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities in his early teen years. He did not take a degree at either school, because to do so would have meant subscribing to the Thirty-nine Articles, the doctrine that defined Anglicanism. At age twenty he studied law at Lincoln’s Inn. Two years later he succumbed to religious pressure and joined the Anglican Church after his younger brother, convicted for his Catholic loyalties, died in prison. Donne wrote most of his love lyrics, erotic verse, and some sacred poems in the 1590s, creating two major volumes of work: Satires, and Songs and Sonnets.

Donne suffered social and financial instability in the years following his marriage, exacerbated by the birth of many children. He continued to write and published the Divine Poems in 1607. In Pseudo-Martyr, published in 1610, Donne displayed his extensive knowledge of the laws of the Church and state, arguing that Roman Catholics could support James I without compromising their faith. In 1615, James I pressured him to enter the Anglican Ministry by declaring that Donne could not be employed outside of the Church. He was appointed Royal Chaplain. His wife died shortly after giving birth to their twelfth child, a stillborn. The Holy Sonnets are also attributed to this phase of his life.

In 1621, he became dean of Saint Paul’s Cathedral. In his later years, Donne’s writing reflected his fear of his inevitable death. He wrote his private prayers, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, during a period of severe illness and published them in 1624. His preaching made him a highly influential presence in London. He died in 1631.

Batter my heart, three person’d God (Holy Sonnet 14)

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank You for bringing beauty out of tumult. We thank You for the poetry of John Donne. There is tumult in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion now. We humbly beseech You to bring beauty out of this tumult, as well. Amen.


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